Pauline experiences Rovos Rail

Staff member: Pauline // Trip date: Apr 2012

Cape Town to Johannesburg

16 -18th April 2012

The meeting point for Rovos is not at the actual Cape Town Railway station but in the building opposite.
Upon arrival I was greeted by name, with staff opening the door to the taxi and whisking away my luggage and offered a glass of champagne!

There were only 22 pax on this journey. All couples, appeared to be retiree's, aged in the 50-70 age group, except myself and a South African Inbound Tour Operator who was taking his sixth Rovos journey. The guests came from Scandinavia, UK, USA and Australia.

Whilst waiting in the Rovos lounge I enjoyed the champers & the live duo playing violin & guitar to entertain the guests. The lounge is HUGE and very luxurious, with chandeliers and comfy sofas, lounges and chairs.
Mr Vos welcomes the guests, asking us to leave the modern world behind and not use mobile phones or laptops in public areas.

Our names were called in the order of the cabin numbers. We were then escorted across the parking area to the Cape Town Railway station and taken to our cabins where luggage was waiting.

The cabins are huge in comparison to the E&O! I had a Deluxe and it is fitted out with everything you could want.
There was a large double bed with lots of pillows. Three, large windows - including one at the foot of the bed - that open, with wooden shutters for privacy and security. Dressing gowns, slippers, a safe, hair dryer, adaptor plugs, a torch, a comprehensive compendium of information, post cards, a full length mirror and two mirrors in the bathroom, bar fridge with bottled water & a small bottle of champagne ready for the guests. The fridge can be stocked with whatever the guests wants upon request. There was a Rovos container with snacks of nuts & sweets.

My hostess arrived to explain how everything works and presented me with a toiletry kit that contained cotton balls, sewing kit etc.

There are three key tags requesting Privacy, Room attendant, or asking for room to be cleaned. The guest hangs a key on a hook outside the cabin. Doors can be locked from the inside but not from the outside. This isn't a problem as the staff and guests are the same throughout the journey. No one else is allowed on the train. When it is stationary the train is locked

The bathroom was small and would only accommodate one person at a time. The water pressure was good and the water HOT! Most cabins have a shower, only the Premier cabin has a bath.

The first part of the journey was very rocky. I went to join the other guests in the lounge just prior to lunch. More champagne or whatever you chose to drink. It's all included.

The food was FANTASTIC! It included a few South African dishes as well as lots of seafood. I was surprised there was not a choice of meals. Apparently the amount of wastage was great. If there is something on the menu that a guest doesn't like there are alternatives offered without any fuss at all. The wines are selected to suit the food and a detailed description offered whilst serving.

Guests are expected to dress up for evening meals. It's obligatory for men to wear a jacket. I was surprised that the ladies didn't dress up as much as they had on the E&O! I wore a long dress on both evenings and whilst I wasn't overdressed I could have taken less formal clothes.

The first stop was Matjiefontein. A small "ghost" town that looks exactly like a pretty country town in Victoria. There's a pub and a Hotel, houses with wrought iron fences that gives the train guests the opportunity to stretch the legs and take some photo's.

Note: the train slips into a siding at (2am) for about 4 hours to enable the guests to sleep! Many guests complained that the ride wasn't smooth.

Our second stop was at Kimberley to see the BIG Hole where the diamonds were extracted. I didn't realise this mine no longer operates and is purely a tourist site with all the trappings that one would expect. The hole is big but nothing in comparison to Kalgoorlie and the super pit.

Every time a guest leaves the compartment the hostess enters and tidies up and replaces the towels. After dinner I returned to my compartment to find the kettle, teapot, cups & saucers ready for me, should I want a "cuppa".
Just prior to Pretoria the old steam train is attached. This enable guests to take photos and too look around this beautiful Rovos station and grounds whilst having a final drink of champers with new friends.

For guests needing to go to Johannesburg airport they should make prior arrangements, via the Rovos office for a taxi to collect them from the Rovos station and take them to Pretoria railway station - about 10 minutes away. They can then use the exceptional, high speed, safe & efficient Gautrain to O.R Tambo Int airport. This takes about a half hour, including one platform change. This is very easy and staff assists with luggage and directions. The Gautrain was built for the World Cup and is amazing and goes right into the airport area!

There is a left luggage area at the airport. Luggage is not secured in a locked locker, but placed on a bench in the back of the ofice. I would not leave anything of real value there. Cost is about $4 for 4 hours.

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